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An Interview with the Central Florida Dark Shadows Fan Club's Patrick McCann

by Dale Pierce

September 2012

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What interested you in the Dark Shadows series to begin with?


Like many others, I watched Dark Shadows after school. I just found it to be the coolest show on daytime TV - then or since.


Tell people about the club, when it was formed and about some of your activities?


The root of our club actually started in 1991 when Jim Pierson asked me to organize a rally in support of the 1991 NBC Dark Shadows prime time show. While the series only ran for one season, the rally put me in contact with many other local fans. I began our club the following year - focusing at first on our efforts to get our local cable company to carry the Sci-Fi Channel. Dark Shadows was the first program announced by the channel. Over time, the club evolved into more of a social gathering of friends with Dark Shadows as the common thread. As time has gone by, we added a Halloween party and Christmas dinner to our activities in addition to our four main meetings a year.


You have a webpage, correct?


Yes. We also have a club page on Facebook (direct link from our club page).


Does your membership remain in the Florida area or is it national or international?


Our club doesn't charge dues or publish a fanzine - so it is really meant for fans in the Florida area to attend our meetings and parties. However, we do have friends or Dark Shadows "cousins" as I call them throughout the country who have joined us on occasion for some of our events.


There are other Dark Shadows clubs out there. Do you all get along?


I am friends with the president and vice-president of the Southern California Shadows in the Sun Dark Shadows fan club. However, other than a couple other small fan groups, I really don't know of any other Dark Shadows clubs. Many clubs that formed in the 80's have since disbanded for many different reasons. The growth of internet fandom, along with Dark Shadows airing on the Sci-Fi Channel in the past and the release of the show on VHS and DVD along with Dark Shadows books and merchandise have allowed fans to enjoy the show on their own, rather than within a club. Our club has been an exception - 2012 marks our 20th anniversary and I still believe the best way for fans to really enjoy Dark Shadows is to share their love for the show with other fans.


How do you feel about the 1990-era Dark Shadows series as opposed to the original?


I think the '91 series was very well done and a valid interpretation of Dark Shadows. It simply didn't have enough time to get established and I believe it would have been embraced by fans the same as Star Trek: The Next Generation had it been given a fair chance.


What about the Burton movie, since it is a satire?


I have to be honest - I had my doubts early on. I don't consider myself a huge Tim Burton fan (although I do love Ed Wood). I was expecting a movie along the lines of Sleepy Hollow, but was dreading something like Sweeney Todd or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I was going in with an open mind and prepared to see it good, bad or indifferent. I never in a million years expected a comedic version of Dark Shadows. While it was not perfect and missed on a couple minor things, I absolutely love the movie. I have seen it six times - which is something I NEVER do - and I can't wait for the DVD release.


Do you think the recent film will revamp, to use a pun, interest in the original series?


I do hope the movie encourages younger fans not familiar with the original series to give the DVDs a looksee from Netflix or their local library. I'm betting they will get hooked.


Some of the actors have been supportive of your group, have they not?


Yes. Diana Millay who played Laura the Phoenix attended one of our meetings and our club has supported David Selby and Denise Nickerson who were in town for various signings. We are also in contact with other Dark Shadows alumni such as Kathryn Leigh Scott thru her publishing company and Chris Pennock and David Hennesy via Facebook.


Do you have a favorite from the original series?


Everytime I watch a particular storyline, I find a different actor or actress that I enjoy - so to be fair, I would say I love the overall show itself and not just one specific person. (Although, I did have a big crush on Kate Jackson when I watched the show the first time while in grade school - lol.)


What are some future activities planned for the club?


Many of our club members attend the festivals and fan gatherings at Seaview Terrace in Newport. Our club also attended the Dark Shadows movie premiere. Our main upcoming activities are the club Halloween party and Christmas dinner.


With DVD releases and such, the old series is alive and well. How do you account for the show's durability, being it went off the air originally, decades ago, excluding reshowings on some of the cable channels?


The show was videotaped, which gives it a very current look. If you didn't know better, it could have been taped last week. It was also advanced in the day regarding special effects. Plus, the stories involving vampires, werewolves, ghosts and time travel hold up extremely well even nearly 50 years later. The acting was also amazing.


How do you personally account for the durability of the Barnabas Collins role in particular?


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Barnabas is the reason Dark Shadows wasn't cancelled after the first year. Dan Curtis went for broke introducing a vampire in a daytime soap opera - and fans loved it. Barnabas began as truly sinister, then evolved into a reluctant vampire who was a victim of a witches curse. Jonathan Frid generated a tremendous amount of passion with adults and and fear with children, making Dark Shadows popular with all ages. (Another reason for the show's durability from the previous question.)


I assume the death of Jonathan Frid this year was upsetting to many members of the club ...


We were all saddened by Jonathan's passing. He continued to work his one man shows into his 70's and was attending festivals and events into his 80's. He even went to England to appear in a cameo role for the new movie. Where he was clearly aging, it was a shock that he passed so suddenly. Just like when I was a child and expected Dark Shadows to be around forever, I thought the same thing of Jonathan Frid.


Anything else you would like to add concerning the club?


I encourage all Dark Shadows fans who would like to share their love for the show with other fans but do not have a club in their area to take the bull by the horns and to actually get one started. It does require some time, effort and determination - particularly in the early stages when your group starts out small and the membership builds slowly. But I can honestly say for me, the club has been a true labor of love and I wouldn't trade the friendships I have made over the years for anything.


Closing comments?


Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on Dark Shadows.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Dale Pierce

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